std::input_iterator_tag, std::output_iterator_tag, std::forward_iterator_tag, std::bidirectional_iterator_tag, std::random_access_iterator_tag

< cpp‎ | iterator
Defined in header <iterator>
struct input_iterator_tag { };
struct output_iterator_tag { };
struct forward_iterator_tag : public input_iterator_tag { };
struct bidirectional_iterator_tag : public forward_iterator_tag { };
struct random_access_iterator_tag : public bidirectional_iterator_tag { };

Defines the category of an iterator. Each tag is an empty type and corresponds to one of the five iterator categories:

Iterator category tags carry information that can be used to select the most efficient algorithms for the specific requirement set that is implied by the category.

For every iterator type, a typedef std::iterator_traits<Iterator>::iterator_category is available, which is an alias to one of these five tag types.


There is no separate tag for ContiguousIterator

(since C++17)


Common technique for algorithm selection based on iterator category tags is to use a dispatcher function (the alternative is std::enable_if)

#include <iostream>
#include <vector>
#include <list>
#include <iterator>
template< class BDIter >
void alg(BDIter, BDIter, std::bidirectional_iterator_tag)
    std::cout << "alg() called for bidirectional iterator\n";
template <class RAIter>
void alg(RAIter, RAIter, std::random_access_iterator_tag)
    std::cout << "alg() called for random-access iterator\n";
template< class Iter >
void alg(Iter first, Iter last)
    alg(first, last,
        typename std::iterator_traits<Iter>::iterator_category());
int main()
    std::vector<int> v;
    alg(v.begin(), v.end());
    std::list<int> l;
    alg(l.begin(), l.end());
//    std::istreambuf_iterator<char> i1(std::cin), i2;
//    alg(i1, i2); // compile error: no matching function for call


alg() called for random-access iterator
alg() called for bidirectional iterator

See also

(deprecated in C++17)
base class to ease the definition of required types for simple iterators
(class template)
provides uniform interface to the properties of an iterator
(class template)